It's best to refrain from dating during divorce.
After you have gone through the initial phases of the divorce process, you may begin to start thinking about or wanting to date again. It may feel like a good way to begin moving on with your life, which is understandable. However, the problems that can arise from beginning a new relationship before your divorce is finalized are substantial and potentially long-lasting. While dating someone new may provide some short-term emotional relief, it’s much more likely that it will add challenges to your situation which will cause more difficult emotions than good.
Just because your divorce has been filed does not mean that you are no longer married to that person. You are not legally considered divorced until a judge has signed your Final Decree of Divorce (the official final orders in your divorce case). If you enter into a relationship with someone new or begin dating during your divorce case (no matter how long you and your spouse have been physically separated), the court could consider this relationship in your case.
In Texas, if a spouse is suspected of committing adultery, the other spouse has the ability to request a disproportionate share of the community estate that the couple own together. Disproportionate means greater than a 50 percent share of the community estate.
The reason behind this is that the state of Texas acknowledges that sometimes infidelity is not only a breaking of the bond of trust in a marriage, but can also be a breaking of the financial bond between two spouses. For example, if one spouse took money from a joint bank account to purchase a car for their paramour, that could affect how a judge decides to award the remaining portion of the community estate in that divorce case.
Dating during your divorce can also bring your morals under scrutiny, especially if you and your spouse have children together. If a new relationship is seen as inappropriate or not in the best interest of the children, it could possibly affect how the court awards custody rights. Just the small act of introducing a new date to your children could be considered contrary to maintaining a positive environment for your children.
Even if you attempt to keep a dating relationship hidden from your spouse and children, any email, text messages, phone calls, or other communication that is discovered can be brought to light during your divorce (more details in our blog on social media use during divorce), which can damage your case.
Legal reasons aside, there are many emotional reasons to give yourself and everyone else involved some time before entering into a dating relationship. It is normal to desire the feeling of being wanted and needed by someone new after you have begun the divorce process, but it is doubtful that jumping into a new relationship will help you heal. And even if you are emotionally ready to start dating again, your soon to be ex-spouse or your children may not be ready for it.
Your Relationship with your Spouse
Emotions can become raw during a divorce, even when it begins amicably. The tone of your divorce can take a turn for the worse if you start seeing someone else before the divorce is finalized. It can feel like rubbing salt in a wound to the other spouse. It is also easy to raise suspicions of the other spouse about when the new relationship actually started.
The added challenges of heightened emotions can, and often do, lead to additional costs and time spent arguing during a divorce case. Especially if you have children and end up sharing custody, it is beneficial to all to maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse during your divorce.
Your Relationship with your Children
If you and your spouse have children, waiting to date until after your divorce is final is often the best choice for their sake. Even if they understand the reasons their parents have made the decision to separate, divorce is a stressful experience for most children. Introducing a new partner to your children too soon can be confusing to them and increase their stress surrounding the situation. It’s important to allow your children the time they need to process the change in their family situation before adding a new relationship into the mix, and can help avoid any possible negative impact on your relationship with them.
Get Advice from an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney
Divorce proceedings can range from straightforward and amicable to complicated and adversarial, and often change from one to the other quickly. Because of this, it is best to avoid unnecessary complications during your divorce.
After your divorce is finalized, you will have the freedom to date again without having to worry how it will affect the outcome of your divorce case.
Whenever you have questions about what behavior is appropriate when filing for divorce, it is best to ask a qualified attorney. Kelly J. Capps is an experienced family law attorney and can explain the legal aspects of your case and offer tips to help make sure you get a fair settlement. She works hard to find the best path for her clients to move their lives forward.